What is Convergent and Divergent Thinking

Convergent Thinking means that you observe something and exert your entire focus on that observation. Whereas Divergent Thinking means that the moment you observe something, your brain starts exploring on all the associated aspects related to that observation. Later part of this article will provide a Comparison of Convergent and Divergent Students. Let me explain this with an example. Imagine a new town that does not have a pet shop and there is only one Chinese restaurant that does not provide authentic Chinese Food. Now imagine, one convergent and one divergent thinker visit this town. The convergent thinker will simply take this observation as a fact and move on with his/her life. However a divergent thinker will think the possibilities associated with this observation. For example, writing a blog on Chinese restaurants, starting a new business of pets, writing a letter to Municipality Office on the need of pet shops, finding an investor to open another Chinese restaurant, speaking to the manager of restaurant for improving food quality and so on. I hope by now you would have understood the difference between convergent and divergent thinking. Just like the above example of two people, students also fall under convergent and divergent thinking categories. So, let us read some key points with regards to both categories of students:

Comparison of Convergent and Divergent Students

  1. Convergent students usually take the information as is. Their thinking pattern is limited hence they lack thinking beyond the information available in their course books.
  2. Convergent students possess low critical thinking skills hence they are poor decision makers in life.
  3. Convergent students lack creativity hence they don’t progress well if their profession requires designing new stuff or trying innovative ideas.
  4. Convergent students usually score good in exams because they memorize the course contents. Especially, in South Asian countries, these students outshine because their grades are based on memorization skills and not on the deep understanding of the contents.
  5. Convergent thinkers may perform well in Audit firms, Quality Control jobs however they still lack innovation and out of box thinking.
  6. Divergent students may not be the toppers however they become better thinkers, better decision makers and good leaders.
  7. Divergent students are fast learners and due to this skill their life-learning process is faster than those of convergent students. Divergent students enhance their wisdom levels due to their diverse thinking patterns.
  8. Divergent students possess good analytical skills. They think beyond the academics.
  9. Some of the scholars think that convergent thinking is based on logic and requires to-the-point focus, whereas divergent thinking is about creativity and diversification of the subject. Hence it is not fair to state that only divergent thinking is required to succeed in life.

Conclusion and Recommendations

After having this deep dive on convergent and divergent thinking, here are some recommendations:
  • Teachers should encourage children to share their thoughts after a specific chapter is taught in the class. This will trigger their thinking patterns.
  • Similarly, parents should encourage their children to speak about their observations when they visit a shop in the market, when they watch a YouTube video or when they study their course books at home.
  • Parents should not discourage if the child’s understanding on a specific subject is not right. Instead, they should praise their thinking efforts and guide them in a way that does not make them feel being dumb. Scolding children on tiny matters or making fun of their thoughts will kill their natural confidence to express their feelings next time. Such students develop week personalities when they grow up.
  • Traditional teaching methods cause students to memorize the contents and pass the exam. Such methods should be shun by schools and should be replaced by latest techniques that require igniting critical thinking skills.
  • Home assignments should be given to the students in a way that students will have to consult different group of people to find answers for, or have to explore internet to complete it.
  • Parents should empower their kids from different kind of personality traits perspective enabling them to become a great and successful human being.

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